The New Titans: Animal Instincts

The New Titans: The Five Earths Project

The New Titans

Animal Instincts

by Libbylawrence

Jericho and Kole try to find a missing Searchers Inc. agent, only to encounter magic and malice of the mythical kind! And just what does this missing persons case have to do with Mento? The remorseful Steve Dayton finally comes clean on one of his mad plots from when he’d been insane, which could spell trouble for the New Titans!

***

Joe Wilson was sitting next to his girfriend Kole Weathers at his mother’s office. Searchers Inc. was a self-started business, and the fiery Adeline Wilson was fiercely proud of it. She often wished she could lure her heroic son to leave the New Titans and devote more time to helping her business. He was here to help now, though, as a favor, so she explained the problem as he listened intently.

“Joey, one of my best agents, Amber Jackson, has vanished,” said Adeline. “We’ve been searching for her for close to a year now, and none of our team can find a trace of her. She was — is — smart, brave, and capable. I hate to imagine the worst, but it does look serious.”

Joe signed his concern, which was also shown in his expressive eyes.

“Was Amber working on a particular case?” asked Kole.

Adeline nodded. “She was investigating a case for the families of a missing couple. Their names are Angelika and Adonis Bal. They were archeologists working in Greece who went missing last year. Amber tried to track them down, and you know the rest. We’ve heard nothing from her since, and her own trail’s gone cold.”

Joe nodded and signed, “What were the Bals working on? A site or museum work?”

“They were trying to uncover the legendary temple of Medusa — the Gorgon of myth,” explained Adeline.

Kole ran a hand through her red curls and shivered. “I’ve had more than my share of encounters with refugees from Greek ‘myth,'” she said.

Joe touched her hand tenderly. “I liked Amber. I’ll try to find her, and don’t worry — I’ll be careful,” he signed.

Adeline smiled. “I know. Both of you be careful.”

***

Joe and Kole soon found themselves on the sandy shores of a Greek isle called Zante. With Kole in a red bikini and Joe in green trunks, they looked for all the world like two romantic tourists enjoying a day on the beach. In some ways, they were.

Kole enjoyed the warmth of the sun and smiled winningly. “Joe, this place is paradise. I wish we could stay here longer. I can’t imagine the Titans would need us to return too quickly. They have so many members and allies. With Starfire, Raven, and Nightwing all back in fighting form, you and I won’t be missed,” she said.

Joe grinned. He had received a call from Nightwing just before their departure. The heroic Dick Grayson had finally finished some business in Gotham City, enjoying the last few months in his boyhood home again, and would be back with the team soon.

They made their way toward the site at which the Bals had been digging. While the excavation was a recent one, the main site had been unearthed years before by a different team. Joe had done his research, and he knew this much. A professor from America’s Vandyre University had brought back many relics from the site.

He signaled to the radiant redhead to follow him as he descended past the rocky slope to the main site. “The authorities have checked the area with no results,” he signed. “The site is inactive until the local museum can reassign a new team to pick up where the Bals stopped.”

Kole nodded. “The Medusa had snakes for hair. She could turn people to stone with one glance. She could not have been any worse than Thia.” She referred to the mad Titaness who had mothered her teammate Lilith and had kept Kole as a slave for two years, using her power to spin crystals as a prison for her enemies.

Joe hoped his lover would be over her old fears, but that captivity had left deep scars in her that still had not fully healed.

As he glanced around the site, he began to frown. “The Bals vanished first. Amber came here and also vanished,” he signed. “I did a check of the hotels and dock registry around the time she was here, and a ship belonging to Steve Dayton was also here.”

Kole frowned. “Dayton? He’s Gar’s father — the wealthy man with the mental problems.”

Joe corrected her gently. “He’s Gar’s stepfather, and the Mento helmet that drove him mad is not a problem anymore.”

“But that’s now,” said Kole. “Do you suspect Dayton — back when he was still under that warped influence — abducted all of them?”

Joe nodded and signed, “Unless I find something to the contrary, that’s my theory.”

He rubbed at a strange icon. The carved image of a serpent-headed woman was etched deeply into the walls of the ruins. His eyes flashed a moment, and he turned.

Kole yelped as his hand suddenly gripped her arm roughly, and his eyes stared at her with unconcealed malice. “Joe?! You’re hurting me!” she gasped.

But it was no use. Kole could tell from his altered expression that Joe Wilson was no longer in control of himself — Medusa was.

A sibilant hiss echoed from Joe, although he was mute. The sound came not from his throat but from around him. It was like a ghostly projection from an unseen speaker.

“Foolish child!” she hissed. “Your powers make you perfect for my spirit. House me as I gain revenge upon all who taunt me with their beauty!”

Kole spun around and kicked free. She moved her hands, and a wall of crystal sprang up to block Joe’s path. “Keep back, you monster! Leave him alone. Fight her, Joe!” she urged.

Joe laughed and jumped over her barrier. He was as agile and quick as ever, and his green eyes widened as he sought contact with her own eyes.

Kole looked down and rode a slide of crystal across the sandy shore as he chased after her. It might really be Medusa! I believe in her, since I’ve seen the Olympians, she thought. She’s possessed Joe, and if he links eyes with me or anyone else, they’ll turn to stone! Thank goodness merely seeing him doesn’t do it. I think all a person had to do in myth was look at Medusa and be transformed to stone.

She was remarkable herself as she rode the arching crystal slide over the sunny shores. The gleaming sunlight played across the structures she wove as she tried desperately to avoid the speedy Joe Wilson.

Joe laughed again with Medusa voice echoed from around him. “Pretty thing, you’ll find your crystal toys cannot survive my gaze,” she/he said. Joe glanced at the slide, and a ray shot from his eyes to shatter the slide into stone fragments.

Kole flipped forward and landed hard as the debris cascaded down around her. “No! He’s caught me! Medusa’s power is growing, too, since she can now project those beams!” moaned Kole.

***

Meanwhile, back at Titans Tower, Artemis was working out with massive weights in the gym. She kept her mind busy as well as she worried about the rift between Dick Grayson and Koriand’r, as well as the problems her husband has had since his termination from the college last year.

Dick knows Kory’s a widow, she thought. She’s insisting that her marriage wasn’t a spiritual union but a Tamaranean peace treaty. Still, Dick can’t forget she married another man while in love with him. He can’t shake the strong moral principles Batman instilled within him. I don’t know that I’d want him to, either, but I hate to see them suffer.

Donna Troy Long also wondered if her husband Terry Long could keep swallowing his pride and continue to work for much longer at the small bookstore at which he was currently employed. “He feels like a failure. I need to help him see that he’s a good man, and no occupation — if it’s honest work — can change that.”

She sighed and wiped her face with a towel. She noticed that Arsenal had admitted a visitor, and he frowned as he led him inside.

“Not that we don’t see our share of flying, but the way you crossed over the waters inches above the surface caught me off-guard,” Roy Harper explained as he showed the man inside.

The visitor was handsome, almost regal. He had long, auburn hair and wore a colorful blue and red costume with a flowing cape. “My thanks to you for your hospitality. Garth has spoken of you all, and I am pleased to walk amongst such noble youths. I am Arion, high mage of Atlantis,” he said with a sweeping bow.

Artemis smiled as he kissed her hand.

“Milady, I need to locate one of your members — the Lady Kole,” he said.

“She is off with Jericho,” said Roy. “Could anyone else help you?”

Arion frowned. “No. Only Kole can serve my needs. I shall seek her out.”

“They are in Greece — Zante, to be exact,” said Donna.

Arion smiled. “Thank you. I shall venture there and seek them.” He walked off with a nod to Arsenal.

Roy grinned. “We meet all kinds in this line of work, don’t we?”

Donna smiled in return.

***

Kole Weathers struggled as Jericho’s possessed form drew closer. She kicked away from him and gasped as he loomed up over her fallen body. She sent a wave of crystal soaring between them and screamed as a hand touched her arm. “Who are you?” she shrieked.

“I am Arion, and I sense your distress. I also detect a spirit wandering still when it should have been at rest eons ago,” he said.

Jericho jumped forward, and Arion touched his face. “Begone, lest you meet a fate more dire!” he commanded as a crystalline glyph flashed in the air between them. A shriek echoed from Jericho as he pitched forward into Kole’s arms.

“Will he be okay?” asked the girl. “What happened to the Medusa spirit?”

Arion smiled calmly. “He shall recover ere long. As for the Gorgon’s ghost, I banished her to Tartarus.”

Jericho weakly signed his thanks and rose to his feet.

Arion addressed the young woman. “Kole, I have need of thee. You may be instrumental in preventing a tragedy.”

Kole frowned. “I’m through with being anybody’s pawn.”

Joe Wilson touched her shoulder, and she calmed down. “What do you need? We’re seeking a missing woman,” he explained, signing quickly with his hands.

Understanding his meaning, Arion said, “My magicks reveal there was violence done here. Those you seek are long gone. I sense their plight originated with one you call Mento.”

Joe frowned. “That confirms our fears.”

“I’m sorry I was so… abrupt earlier,” said Kole. “How can I help you?”

Arion nodded and began explaining how, with her powers, she might help save the watery realm of Atlantis. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Aquaman: Atlantis Attacked.]

***

Shortly thereafter, Gar Logan sat across from his stepfather Steve Dayton and listened to a sorrowful tale.

“While still under the influence of that Mento helmet after the nightmarish events that took place when I foolishly associated with Sargon and the other magic users, I started forming bizarre plans to ruin you and your team. (*) You know, of course, how I joined the Children of the Sun in their efforts to use promethium to revive their mother Thia. (*) Well, before that I had abducted several people, including this Amber Jackson, to recreate them as my own personal version of the Doom Patrol. I used the helmet and promethium in some cases to create a team of super-powered misfits.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Night Force: The War of Darkness and Light¬†and The New Titans: Fragments.]

“Amber was transformed into a feline-human hybrid called Pantha. She escaped from me, and in my madness I lost the others as well. I was so mad, so full of pain, that I did not care. I merely allowed my Hybrid, as I termed them, to vanish. I can’t say who took them, because I was delusional. I can only say I think they are still alive.

“Pantha escaped separately, before the others were taken. She is in jail now. Earlier this year Captain Comet’s team defeated her along with a few other villains she must have fallen in with somehow. (*) I regret to say that, until your questions prompted me to make some calls, I’d never have even recalled that much. I must also add that Pantha has no memory of her life as Amber. I cannot restore her, either — I simply cannot risk using that helmet again.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: A Cosmos Imperiled.]

Gar comforted the distraught man. “You were sick. You didn’t know what you were doing. So Pantha was Amber, and you took her when she traced the Bals to you. I guess they are in this Hybrid, too?”

Dayton sighed. “Yes. I can’t even recall what forms I gave them. I can’t recall how I lost them at all.” He broke into a fit of sobbing.

“We’ll find them, Dad,” assured Gar. “Don’t worry. You just get your rest.”

He walked down the long halls of the manor and brooded. “Man, this is too heavy for me,” he sighed. “I have to talk to Vic and the rest.”

And he would, but that would be a tale for another time.

The End

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